Law Commission to draft new adult social care law


The Law Commission is to draft a single adult social care law, which could save social workers time and make service users’ rights clearer.

The Commission has today published consultation proposals on how it plans to take over 38 existing community care laws and combine them into a single statute.

“The present system is inefficient and a waste of resources,” said law commissioner Frances Patterson.

The commission estimates that the codification could provide modest savings of up to £15m a year. Patterson said it would save social workers time and reduce the number of complaints.

Lower assessment threshold

The commission proposes to clarify the grounds for the provision of services and lower the threshold for assessment. Although this would potentially entitle many more people to an assessment Patterson said: “We do not anticipate that there will be any additional burden on local authorities.”

Under the plans the provision of all services for service users and their carers would be subject to a single eligibility criteria framework set down in statutory regulation by ministers.

At present councils are under a duty to provide select services to people who are “ordinarily resident” in a local authority’s area.

Under the plans this would be expanded to all community care services.

This would be accompanied by a duty for different local authorities to cooperate where service users are moving between areas to facilitate the porting of services.

Other duties would include the duty to safeguard vulnerable adults, which the commission proposes be extended to those self-funding their own care. However, the commission recommends that the powers of local authorities to remove people to a place of safety under the National Assistance Act 1948 will be removed because it says they are incompatible with the Human Rights Act, though these powers are not commonly used at present.

The services that authorities could provide would also be expanded to a broad list in legislation rather than the present prescriptive approach.

The transition from children’s to adult services would also be eased by 16 and 17 year olds being given the right to request assessment and services from adult teams.

The proposed changes would also abolish councils’ registers of disabled people.

The Commission aims to produce a report on reform by the summer of 2011 with a draft bill to follow.

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